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Smart Manufacturing and the 5 key areas for change in the SubFab

Operational excellence featured image

Organisations have gone through an evolution in the way they think about technology and processes. Initially, the focus was on the process rather than the outcome. Now, the industry looks at how to get the best results from making proactive improvements into operational effectiveness and quality.

For Smart manufacturing to contribute to the success in the SubFab it must look beyond “big data analytics” or other technology-led plays. Vital improvements must be made across the SubFab.

The five key areas for change in the SubFab

Standards and procedures

Standards and procedures will need to change rapidly as Smart Manufacturing drives innovation. Richer analytics will pinpoint root causes of faults more quickly, but that information needs to get to each team. IT technology helps us to embed that information in a dynamic way.

Operational models and cultures

The SubFab and wider vacuum system can be a dangerous place. Safe working practices must lead the way. When activities are better planned the time pressure risks are removed. This includes the advance notice of required equipment interventions but not all issues can be predicted. Safe working practices must be engrained as a culture so as expectations rise safety is constant.

Team competency and capabilities

For effective analytics, training is paramount. Are SubFab teams familiar with these new data-gathering technologies? Interacting with new roles and skillsets is imperative to ensure the best performance from the SubFab environment. The first step is identifying the requirements and embedding the right skills.  

Knowledge Systems

Knowledge systems are at the heart of managing data analytics. SubFab sensor data alone cannot deliver good analytics: domain knowledge and context data are needed to truly understand why events happen and to then eliminate or mitigate causes. For example, what happened during that last maintenance activity (context data) and how did it influence that excursion in the vacuum system (domain knowledge)? We are building extensions and interfaces to our many knowledge systems to provide a simple, point of use access.


Data has the potential to integrate machines, people and processes in deep way. Effective Smart Manufacturing requires new levels of collaboration and governance across functions. That is not confined to the SubFab, but throughout the Fab. Networks are growing, and new relationships are being actively developed. 

Stay tuned for future blogs in this series, where we’ll dive deeper into operational excellence, safety, analytics and the positive influence they have on successful smart manufacturing and fab success.


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